The Insane True Story That Inspired ‘The Imposter’ Documentary

The Imposter is truly a twisted documentary, that really poised a question to viewers. Would YOU be able to recognize your beloved one, after they went missing for years? Do you think your emotions would get the best of you, and latch on to hope?

In 1994, San Antonio, Texas, 13 year old Nicolas Barclay disappeared, after a game of basketball with his friends. With his mother sleeping, it is presumed at this point in time he attempted to go home, however he was kidnapped. The body was never found, however the police department and the Barclay family presumed he was dead.

Three years later, Barclay was found huddled next to a phone booth halfway across the world in Linares, Spain. He had numerous claims, such as him being part of a child sex trafficking ring, and also claimed that his abductors had chemically altered his hair and eye color. Authorities picked him up and reunited him with his family.

However, certain things didn’t add up. Barclay had very little memory of what happened to him, and couldn’t give police a real answer as to how he ended up in Spain. Plus, his English was terrible, and when he did speak English it was with a heavy accent. This doesn’t make sense for someone who spent the first 13 years of his life in the United States, but these discrepancies were explained away by the fact that Barclay was probably just coping with the emotional trauma of being kidnapped to a foreign country and kept away from his family for 3 years. Barclay tried to resume a normal life, enrolling back into his old school, moving back in with his family, and living the life the family wished for.

About four months after reuniting with his family, a private investigator discovered that Nicolas Barclay actually wasn’t Barclay, but a con artist named Frederic Bourdin. Bourdin was wanted by Interpol because he had a habit of stealing the identity of missing youths. Bourdin was arrested, but this brought about even more disturbing questions about Nicolas’s disappearance.

This case shows not only levels of sociopathic behavior from Bourdin, as he quite bluntly was able to fool Mexican authorities, the FBI, and the Barclay family themselves.

Apparently, Nicolas was a very unruly and problematic child. He was always getting into trouble at school, and there were several police reports from his family’s house about domestic disturbances and arguments that worsened in the months before he went missing. Nicolas’s mom moved her brother into their house (Nicolas’s uncle) shortly before he disappeared to help give Nicolas some structure. It is rumored that he couldn’t handle Nicolas and instead killed him. This would explain why the family was so willing to accept someone who wasn’t their son as their lost boy. If it was believed that Nicolas was alive, any murder investigation would come to a halt.

Even more interesting? After Bourdin was arrested police began re-opening and investigating the case, Nicolas’s uncle promptly killed himself.